Friday, February 16, 2018

Unregistered amateur-built Air Command 582 gyroplane: Fatal accident occurred October 01, 2014 near Rostraver Airport (KFWQ), Monongahela, Washington County, Pennsylvania

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

David Paul Charletta

Location: Monongahela, PA
Accident Number: ERA15LA001
Date & Time: 10/01/2014, EDT
Registration: NONE
Aircraft: AIR COMMAND 582
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Unknown or undetermined
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

Analysis 

A witness saw the unregistered, amateur-built gyroplane flying in the airport traffic pattern. When the gyroplane pilot could not be located by friends later that day, a search was initiated, and the wreckage was subsequently located in an area of vegetation about 750 ft from the runway.

Examination of the airframe revealed no evidence of any obvious mechanical deficiencies that would have precluded normal operation, and during a postaccident test run, the engine ran with no anomalies noted.

Although the pilot held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating, he did not hold a rotorcraft-gyroplane rating. About 2 months before the accident, he sought flight training from a gyroplane flight instructor, and after that 1-day training session, he received an endorsement to conduct solo gyroplane operations on and just above the ground. The endorsement did not allow the pilot to fly in and around the airport traffic pattern solo. In the 2 months leading up to the accident flight, the pilot's logbook documented several flights consistent with adhering to the endorsement's limitations; however, beginning about 1 week before the flight, the entries showed that the pilot likely conducted flight maneuvers inconsistent with the endorsement's limitations. Although the specific circumstances about the accident could not be determined, the pilot's inexperience and failure to obtain additional training to get his authorization for additional flight operations in the accident aircraft type likely contributed to the outcome.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The amateur-built gyroplane's collision with terrain for reasons that could not be determined based on the available information. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's decision to conduct the flight without obtaining additional training.

Findings

Personnel issues
Decision making/judgment - Pilot (Factor)
Training with equipment - Pilot (Factor)

Not determined
Not determined - Unknown/Not determined (Cause)


Factual Information

On October 1, 2014, at an unknown time, an unregistered amateur-built Air Command 582 gyroplane was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain near Rostraver Airport (FWQ), Monongahela, Pennsylvania. The private pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the presumed local personal flight, which was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

During a telephone interview, a friend of the accident pilot stated that the pilot had purchased the single-seat gyroplane in the spring of 2014 and wanted to get additional training with a flight instructor. After the training, the pilot advised his friend that he was "good to go," and he subsequently made several flights in the vicinity of FWQ. On the day of the accident, the pilot was scheduled to meet some friends around 1800, and the friend became concerned when the pilot could not be located by 2030. He called 911 around 2100. According to the Westmorland County, Pennsylvania Coroner's Summary Report, the wreckage was located on October 2 about 0915, in an area of vegetation located about 750 feet east of the runway 26 threshold at FWQ.

A witness, who was flying his helicopter in the traffic pattern at FWQ on the day of the accident, stated that he watched the pilot depart and fly around the vicinity of the airport for at least 45 minutes to 1 hour. He did not witness the accident, but did recall seeing the pilot still flying later that day as he conducted business on the airport ramp and in the terminal building.

Examination of the airframe by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors did not reveal evidence of any obvious mechanical deficiencies. Two of the three propeller blades were separated about 1-foot outboard of the propeller hub, while the third blade remained intact. The gyroplane was recovered from the accident site and its engine was separated from the airframe and test run. The engine started normally and ran with no anomalies noted.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land, and his most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued on August 12, 2014. According to the accident pilot's gyroplane flight instructor, who was located in Georgia, the accident pilot came to him in August 2014 seeking flight instruction. The flight instructor conducted 4.8 hours of dual flight instruction with the accident pilot, along with some ground instruction. After their last flight together, the flight instructor endorsed the pilot's logbook for solo flight, but prescribed a restriction that the pilot could not fly higher than 5 feet. The endorsement also did not allow the pilot to fly in an airport traffic pattern solo. The flight instructor further advised the pilot to bring the accident gyroplane back to Georgia so that they could continue their training. When asked about the accident gyroplane, the flight instructor stated that the pilot had recently purchased it and was waiting for the registration paperwork to be completed by the FAA, and to have it inspected by a mechanic before he flew it. When asked about the circumstances of the accident flight, the flight instructor was surprised to hear that the wreckage was located so far from the runway.

Review of a pilot logbook revealed that the pilot had logged 3.0 hours of ground instruction and 6.1 hours of flight training with the flight instructor on August 15, 2014. The flight was logged over two entries, both of which occurred at Macon Downtown Airport (MAC), Macon, Georgia. An endorsement in the logbook signed by the flight instructor stated, that he had flown with the pilot and, "…found him safe and competent to operate his Air Command Gyro Plane. Ground taxi, balance and in ground effect. Wind restriction of 10 mph, daytime."

The logbook contained 14 additional entries for flights conducted between August 20 and September 29, 2014, with a total flight time logged of 11.6 hours. None of the flights were logged as dual instruction received, nor did any of the entries contain an endorsement of a flight instructor. The first 7 entries had accompanying remarks that included comments similar to, runway, taxiing, spinning rotors, balancing on mains, hops, crosswind control, rotor brake control. Beginning on September 20, 2014, the final 7 flights logged over the course of 6.7 flight hours contained remarks that included descriptions similar to, closed pattern, landings, turns, slow flight, 8 gust 11 at 220, turns at point, flat spins, vertical descents.

No airworthiness history, maintenance, or aircraft registration records could be located for the accident gyroplane.

An autopsy was performed on the pilot by Cyril H. Wecht and Pathology Associates, Inc. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. According to a summary report prepared by the Office of the Coroner, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, the cause of death was blunt force injuries. Toxicological testing performed by the FAA's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute found no trace of ethanol, carbon monoxide, or other drugs present in the samples submitted for the pilot. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 62, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Single
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s):None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 08/12/2014
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:   (Estimated) 3800 hours (Total, all aircraft), 18.3 hours (Total, this make and model), 24.4 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 15.5 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: AIR COMMAND
Registration: NONE
Model/Series: 582
Aircraft Category: Gyroplane
Year of Manufacture:
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate:
Serial Number: NONE
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 1
Date/Type of Last Inspection: Unknown
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 275 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer:  Rotax
ELT: Installed, activated, aided in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: 582
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 67 hpOperator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Not Reported
Observation Facility, Elevation:
Observation Time:
Distance from Accident Site:
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Temperature/Dew Point:
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility:  
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction:
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting:
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration:
Departure Point: Monongahela, PA (FWQ)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Monongahela, PA (FWQ)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: EDT
Type of Airspace: 

Airport Information

Airport: ROSTRAVER (FWQ)
Runway Surface Type: Unknown
Airport Elevation: 1228 ft
Runway Surface Condition:
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: Unknown 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 40.212222, -79.822222

NTSB Identification: ERA15LA001 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, October 01, 2014 in Monongahela, PA
Aircraft: AIR COMMAND 582, registration: NONE
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On October 1, 2014, at an unknown time, an unregistered Air Commander 582, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain near Rostraver Airport (FWQ), Monogahela, Pennsylvania. The private pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the presumed local personal flight, which was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to the Westmorland County, Pennsylvania Coroner's Summary Report, the accident pilot was last observed flying the single-seat gyroplane about 1350 on the day of the accident. When the pilot did not meet his family later that evening, they reported him missing. The wreckage was subsequently located the following day about 0915, about 750 feet east of the runway 26 threshold at FWQ.

The wreckage was subsequently recovered from the site and a detailed examination of the airframe and engine was scheduled for a later date.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land and his most recent Federal Aviation Administration third-class medical certificate was issued on August 12, 2014.

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